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'Grim Sleeper' serial killer case ballistic evidence to be reviewed by defense

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Frank Stoltze/KPCC

Photos at the home of Lonnie David Franklin Jr., charged with 10 murders dating back to 1985.

It looks like court proceedings for Lonnie Franklin, the man accused of being the South Los Angeles "Grim Sleeper" serial killer, will be slow. In what was sure to be one of many pretrial hearings Thursday, defense attorneys reported they're hiring an independent analyst to look at ballistic evidence in the case.

Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman expressed slight frustration with the delays.

"We took this to the grand jury to avoid a lenghty pretrial and cut down on it dragging out," she said. "But I know this is a capital case, and the defense wants to avoid issues of not being prepared."

The defendant appeared relaxed as he sat with attorneys in an orange jail jumpsuit at the high security courtroom in downtown L.A. Franklin is accused of murdering seven women between 1985 and 1988 and an additional three women between 2002 and 2007. The apparent 14-year hiatus between the murder sprees prompted the name "Grim Sleeper." Franklin was arrested in July 2010 and was accused of the murders. 

Attorney Seymour Amster said his client was doing "fine" in jail, despite his high profile status. 

Amster said defense attorneys are meticulously sifting through the evidence that'll be presented against their client in trial. Amster said DNA evidence may, at some point, also be looked at by an independent expert, but couldn't say for sure at this time.

Amster said the delays weren't a product of strategy or apathy, merely a desire to get things right.

"Do it once, do it right, do it thoroughly," he said of the case. "We want to save the taxpayers the issue of coming back to this after 20 years." 

He also said, should a ballot intitiative that would eliminate the death penalty in California pass in November, things might change in the speed of the case.

Franklin potentially faces the death penalty if convicted.

Family members of some of the victims of the Grim Sleeper killings sat in the audience at the hearing, but declined to speak with media.

Franklin next appears in court Oct. 24 for another pretrial hearing.

Meanwhile, police are still searching for additional victims, based on photographs and identification cards found in Franklin's home.

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